Serena Williams Scrapes Through To Claim Spot In Wimbledon Semis
Little more than a tennis part-timer these days, Serena Williams is two wins away from a record-equalling 24th grand slam singles crown.
Williams scrapped her way into a 12th Wimbledon semi-final with a rollercoaster 6-4 4-6 6-3 victory over giant-killing fellow American Alison Riske on Tuesday.
Turning 38 in September and already the oldest grand slam champion in the open era after winning the 2017 Australian Open while pregnant, Williams has firmed as favourite to land a first major as a mother -- and eighth overall on London's famous grass courts.
And incredibly, the former world No.1 is still challenging for grand slam spoils while picking and choosing her tournaments while juggling family life with less and less tennis.
Without a competitive outing between her 2018 US Open final meltdown against Naomi Osaka and the Australian Open in January, Williams arrived last week having not played a match since the French Open more than a month ago -- and only a dozen all season.
Yet she still managed to end Riske's brilliant grasscourt run with 18 aces and six service breaks in another nerveless Centre Court display.
"I believe in myself. I believe if I'm feeling well, I can be a big competitor in a sport that I love and I've done so well at," Williams said.
"So just the keyword is getting fit and getting back into match play injury-free."
Seeded 11th after losing last year's final to Angelique Kerber ranked No.181 in the world, Williams needed more than two hours to see off the 55th-ranked Riske -- Ashleigh Barty's fourth-round conqueror on Monday.
"I was really pumped. It's for a place in the semis at Wimbledon. That doesn't happen every day," Williams said.
"I was really satisfied. I wouldn't have won that match a couple of weeks ago. I'm glad I was able to come through.
"She was playing so great, beat so many great players and, my god, she was so close to taking the win today."
Desperate to match Margaret Court's record 24 singles majors, Williams will play unseeded Czech Barbora Strycova on Thursday for a place in Saturday's title decider.
Strycova crushed British hopes with a 7-6 (7-5) 6-1 win over Johanna Konta in Tuesday's last quarter-final.
Williams' fellow former world No.1 Simona Halep took out Zhang Shuai 7-6 (7-4) 6-1 to advance to the last four for the first time since 2014.
The Romanian seventh seed will face eighth seed Elina Svitolina, a 7-5 6-4 victor over over Czech surprise packet Karolina Muchova.
Halep is vowing to play with total freedom having passed the mantle as the sport's best player without a major to Svitolina with her breakthrough French Open final triumph last year.
"The pressure is off," Halep said.
"I just came here relaxed. I came here motivated to see how good I can be on grass. I'm happy on court.
"This helps me a lot. I will try to be my best version of myself in the semis."
After years of unfilled promise, Svitolina is Ukraine's first women's grand slam semi-finalist.
"It feels amazing," the 24-year-old said.
"I actually didn't expect it to happen here. It is exciting and I am looking forward to it already."